Netflix and UNESCO have partnered to launch an innovative short film competition on ‘African Folktales, Reimagined’ across Sub-Saharan Africa. Winners of the competition will be trained and mentored by industry professionals and provided with a US$75,000 production budget to create short films that will premiere on Netflix in 2022 as an “Anthology of African folktales”.
One key aim of this competition is to discover new voices and to give emerging filmmakers in Sub-Saharan Africa visibility on a global scale. We want to find the bravest, wittiest, and most surprising re-tellings of some of Africa’s most-loved folktales and share them with entertainment fans around the world in over 190 countries.
The competition, which will be administered by Dalberg, is open on 14 October 2021 until 14 November 2021. Each of the 6 winners will receive a production grant of US$75,000 (through a local production company) to develop, shoot and post-produce their films under the guidance of industry mentors selected by UNESCO & Netflix to ensure everyone involved in the production is fairly compensated. In addition, each of the 6 winners will also receive $25,000.
UNESCO and Netflix both strongly believe in the importance of promoting diverse local stories, and bringing them to the world. They recognize that many emerging filmmakers struggle with finding the right resources and visibility to enable them to fully unleash their talents and develop their creative careers. This competition aims to address these issues and enable African storytellers to take a first step towards showcasing their content to a global audience.
This partnership will also help create sustainable employment and encourage economic growth and it will therefore contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, a series of targets established by the United Nations which aims to end global poverty in all its forms by the end of this decade. This film competition will also help reduce inequalities by facilitating access to global markets and by guaranteeing dignified working conditions. All of these are key goals within the 2030 Agenda.
The competition is open to emerging filmmakers across Sub-Saharan Africa on the theme of “African Folktales, Re-imagined.” Folktales have always been an important way of passing on culture, heritage, and values to future generations, while constantly inviting people to re-imagine their relevance to our contemporary societies. This theme is inspired by African Union 2063 Agenda’s Aspiration 5, which celebrates African cultural identity, common heritage, values, and ethics. This competition aims to harness this important tradition with a modern outlook while leveraging new mediums of distributing artistic and creative content, like Netflix.
For the first round, applicants will be required to submit a synopsis of their concept (no more than 500 words) as well as links to a recent CV and a portfolio/evidence of any past audiovisual work they have produced.
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, UNESCO, commented that “It is important that the film sector acts to ensure the voices of Africa are heard, by supporting the emergence of diverse cultural expressions, putting forth new ideas and emotions, and creating opportunities for creators to contribute to global dialogue for peace, culture and development.” and Ernesto Ottone R., Assistant Director-General for Culture, UNESCO stated “The film sector must ensure that the creative talents of Africa are promoted, by supporting young talents and making sure that African filmmakers contribute to the international film industry.”
In his comments, Ted Sarandos, Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer, Netflix, stated “Growing up, entertainment was how I connected with people. I fell in love with the stories and characters I saw on screen and experienced how storytelling has the power to inspire, which is why I’m excited about this partnership with UNESCO and the opportunities ahead. Together we will promote local cultures and support the creative industries in telling stories that cross borders, reflect universal truths, and ultimately, bring us together.” And commenting, Ben Amadasun, Director of Content in Africa, Netflix, said “Africa has a rich storytelling heritage and a wealth of folktales that have been passed down for generations. When you marry these very local stories with Africa’s emerging talent, there’s no limit to fresh new stories to connect people with African cultures and bring the world that much closer to each other.”
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